Peñasco seniors, along with their friends and families, celebrated a milestone Saturday (May 19), remembering times past and looking to the future as members of the class of 2012 collected their diplomas.
The graduates filed into the decked-out Jicarita Gymnasium to the sounds of “Pomp and Circumstance” before being greeted and congratulated by Peñasco High School Principal Ray Maestas. He encouraged the group to work hard to accomplish its goals, telling the students that success means knowing they can accomplish anything they set their minds to.
Maestas ended his welcome address with a quote by César Chávez: “Real education should consist of drawing the goodness and the best out of our own students. What better books can there be than the book of humanity?”
Peñasco Independent School Board President Isabel Durán also addressed the graduates, telling them to thank their parents and other family members for supporting them over the years.
“It is your family’s support that will continue to drive you,” she said.
Durán encouraged the students to travel widely, as it will make them appreciate Peñasco all the more. She told those gathered they should always strive to improve themselves and become community leaders.
Superintendent Jeanelle Livingston said she is proud of the class of 2012 and welcomed the graduates to young adulthood.
“Life is a wonderful journey,” she said. “Don’t you give up one dream, one hope, one aspiration ... Everything is possible.”
Livingston also told the students they should believe in themselves and urged them to appreciate the unique upbringing they had in Northern New Mexico.
“We live in God’s country,” she said. “It is a great day to be a Peñasco Panther.”
Guest speaker Jack Vigil, head of Harmonix Technologies, talked about his youthful pursuit of bodybuilding and his success in the technology field. He said, with perseverance and hard work, the 2012 graduates could also achieve their dreams.
“The foundation started here, where you are sitting today,” he said. “I wouldn’t have the drive if I wasn’t from this town.”
Salutatorian Jessica Gonzales, who said she plans to study criminology at New Mexico State University, said the members of the graduating class are loyal to and supportive of each other. She said the students worked well together and also encouraged them to pursue their dreams into the future.
“Through hard work comes success,” she said.
Valedictorian Jaylene Martínez addressed the graduates, saying the class has seen its ups and downs. Martínez, who plans to study mathematics at UNM, said she was once anxious to graduate and leave Peñasco, but graduation day seemed to arrive too quickly. She said though it is time to move on, the graduates should always remember growing up in Peñasco and be proud of where they came from.